It's tempting to use the vague and tired terms "crossover" and "fusion" in describing the music of Lee Ritenour and Friendship. As highly respected musicians. Friendship has little trouble moving in jazz and rock circles but their performance at the Bayou last night could not be easily pigeonholed.
The most striking thing that sets Friendship apart from fusion is the work of jazz veteran Ernie Watts on soprano and tenor sax. Particulary on soprano sax - the most temperamental of reeds - Watts' strident sound cut across the keyboard and guitar lines preventing their electronics from becoming too glossy. Abe Laboriel on bass and Alex Acuna on drums anchored the band in a funky mode throughout the evening but left Ritenour plenty of slack for tateful guitar flights that were modest in duration.
In fact, it is restraint that is one of Friendship's most conspicuous virtues. Despite the changes in tempo. Ritenour doesn't embark on any cosmic journeys and the band never tries to outfunk Funkadelic.
Considering the individual talents that make up Friendship, it is doubtful that the band will be around for long. Perhaps a recording session scheduled for later this month will prolong their life. Fusion could use the new blood.